Friday, February 17, 2012

Disruptions in the Force

What if I were to tell you that at the beginning of the creation of the earth there was a life-force that permeates everything and gives life to dead things. You can leave them alone for a few days and then you will see life where there was death and destruction, where only dead bull horns were buried in the ground you find a thriving community of bees, or where there was a pot of dirty laundry and wheat you have mice. This force gave life to inanimate objects, from inorganic things you could have life organizing. Disease is caused when these life-forces are out of balance, too much blood? You have a fever. Too much   bile? Your stomach hurts. These imbalances can be caused by deadly life-forces traveling on air... many scientists are now studying these miasmas to stop the run of these diseases that afflict society today.

The swan neck flask experimentSounds like something from a creation myth or Star Wars... this mysterious life-force was termed "the Vegitative Force" and was first explained by Aristotle and tested by John Needham in the early 1800's. But this was where the greatest breakthroughs were being made in science, men working to discover how to free this vegitative force for the good of mankind. However despite some experiments from minds like Francesco Redi and Louis Pasteur on meat and beer and wine, the populace and scientific world continued researching in that way until abiogenesis was disproved by Louis Pasteur with this experiment, where he proved that microbes come from other microbes, not this Vegitative Force.

Now other scientists had done experiments attempting to overthrow the science, Lazzaro Spallanzani had done countless experiments to prove that there was no mysterious life-force that permeated everything, but every one of his experiments were discredited by the then famous John Needham: "Your experiment does not hold water, because you have boiled your flasks for an hour, and that fierce heat weakens and so damages the Vegitative Force so that  it can no longer make little animals." It was Needham, not Spallanzani that was elected into the Academy of Sciences.

However with every disruptive innovation, there comes a time when people recognize that the innovation is actually better than the original... this time came with much acclaim with Pasteur's experiment with anthrax inoculations in sheep in Pouilly-de-Fort. For those who ascribed to the previous thought, there was no way for the sheep to overcome the deadly force of the blood of diseased animals. But they did. When Pasteur inoculated the sheep with his vaccination against the microbe that caused Anthrax the sheep lived and there was no anthrax microbe in their blood. Take these results and add them to the numerous discoveries made by a small town physician named Robert Koch and all of a sudden scientists have to learn a new method of scientific thought when it comes to disease.

That is how science typically goes, you have one main thought that pervades through the sciences until someone discovers that the laws that govern nature are different than we had previously supposed. I wonder what "Vegitative Forces" we hold dear in our society today that will be the annals of failed theories of the future. (will we one day see atoms as a quaint thought of the past?)

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it amazing how the force of human inertia works to hold on to the already "proven" theory?